‘Unfair and out-of-touch’: Democrats slam Biden’s White House staff marijuana policy

White House marijuana
A demonstrator waves a flag with marijuana leaves on it during a protest outside of the White House calling for the legalization of marijuana on April 2, 2016.

  • Several Democrats are criticizing the Biden White House over their marijuana policy for staffers.
  • Staffers were asked to resign or told to work remotely due to their drug use, per The Daily Beast.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the policy only affected a small number of staffers.
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Several leading Democrats are criticizing a White House policy that has disqualified or and sidelined staffers for past marijuana use, as first reported by The Daily Beast on Friday.

Sources told The Daily Beast that dozens of young staffers under were suspended, asked to resign, or told to work remotely after informing the White House that they had smoked marijuana recreationally – a marked reversal from President Joe Biden administration’s stance of allowing recreational cannabis smokers to apply for open roles.

The rebuke from members of the president’s own party represents a major policy rift just days after the successful passage of the Democratic-backed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of California on Friday shared his displeasure over the policy with The Daily Beast, highlighting that medical cannabis was now the law of the land in most states and Washington DC and expressing that the country had “evolved beyond [former US Attorney General] Jeff Sessions’ reefer madness hysteria.”

“I want to find out how and why this happened, and obviously I’m going to urge them to change course,” he said. “This administration promised a more enlightened approach, but somewhere along the line they reverted to the dogma.”

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, the cochair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, was even sharper in his criticism.

“What’s happening now is a vivid illustration of unrealistic, unfair, and out-of-touch cannabis policies,” he told The Daily Beast. “There is confusion across the country because of out of date laws and the fact that the American public is not waiting for the federal government to get its act together. This is an opportunity for the Biden administration to help end the failed War on Drugs and make a more rational policy for everyone.”

He added: “In the meantime, these young people should not be singled out and discriminated against for something that is legal in much of the country and supported by the vast majority of Americans.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the pushback to the report on Twitter, noting that of the hundreds of staffers hired, just five individuals were no longer serving in the administration.

“The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy,” she wrote.

Psaki didn’t specify how many applicants were potentially blocked from actually being hired, but told The Daily Beast that there were other considerations pertaining to individuals affected by the policy.

“In an effort to ensure that more people have an opportunity to serve the public, we worked in coordination with the security service to ensure that more people have the opportunity to serve than would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use,” she said in a statement. “While we will not get into individual cases, there were additional factors at play in many instances for the small number of individuals who were terminated.”

Other members didn’t bite their tongue in responding to the report, including progressive Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California.

“This is an absurd policy that will block law abiding people – particularly people of color – from pursuing careers in public service,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s all the more unjust that many of these staffers applied for their security clearances with the understanding that past marijuana use would not be held against them.”

While cannabis is legal in Washington DC and 14 states, possession of the drug remains a federal crime, as it is still considered a Schedule I drug, the “most dangerous class” of substances.

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Over 3 dozen Democrats lawmakers urge Biden to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates

Joe Biden White House
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on January 22, 2021.

  • Thirty-seven lawmakers asked President Joe Biden to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates.
  • The effort was led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
  • Biden is opposed to the death penalty and campaigned on ending the practice.
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Over three dozen lawmakers, led by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday asking him to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates and “recommit to the tradition of due process, mercy, and judicial clemency when it comes to matters related to the criminal legal system.”

The letter included co-signers like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Karen Bass of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Jamaal Bowman of New York, where they expressed “grave concerns regarding the death penalty” and criticized the pace of executions under President Donald Trump.

“Night after night in the final days of the Trump administration, the American people bore witness to the cruel and heinous practice of executions,” they wrote. “Americans from all walks of life appealed to the moral conscience of judges and the President to save the lives of those on death row. To no avail.”

Under the Trump administration, there were 13 federal executions. Before federal executions resumed in 2020, the last federal execution was carried out in 2003.

Read more: Trump tested the Constitution and shredded traditions. Biden and the Democrats have big plans of their own about what to do next.

The signatories urged Biden “to take swift, decisive action” in commuting the sentences of death row inmates and accused Trump of enabling “carnage and unrestrained violence that must be rectified immediately.”

“This moment demands a series of meaningful actions to ensure that no President can authorize the killing of Americans through the death penalty,” they wrote.

Biden, who opposes the death penalty, instead favors inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole or probation.

When asked about Biden’s commitment to ending the federal death penalty during a Wednesday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have updates on any immediate plans of action.

“The President, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past,” she said. “He remains – that remains his view. I don’t have anything more for you in terms of future actions or mechanisms, though.”

In the letter, the signatories remained hopeful that they could partner with Biden in halting future executions.

“We look forward to working with your administration to enact just and restorative policies that will meaningfully transform our criminal legal system for the better,” they wrote. “By exercising your clemency power, you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill.”

They added: “Given the historic nature of your administration, this would be an unprecedented but necessary –  action to reverse systemic injustices and restore America’s moral standing.

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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner spent $100K of taxpayer money renting a bathroom so Secret Service agents didn’t have to use theirs

jared and ivanka
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk on the south lawn of the White House on November 29, 2020.

  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have spent $100,000 on bathroom accommodations for their Secret Service detail after barring the agents from using their bathrooms, The Washington Post reported
  • Law enforcement officials told The Post that the president’s daughter and son-in-law barred the Secret Service from using their 6.5 bathrooms when they first moved into their DC mansion in 2017. 
  • In September 2017, the federal government began renting a $3,000-a-month studio apartment across the street from the Trump-Kushner residence for the agents’ bathroom needs.
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Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner, a top aide to the president, have spent about $100,000 on bathroom accommodations for their Secret Service detail after prohibiting the agents from using the bathrooms in their Washington mansion, The Washington Post reported Thursday. 

Law enforcement officials told The Post that the president’s daughter and son-in-law barred the Secret Service from using their 6.5 bathrooms when they first moved into their home in DC’s wealthy Kalorama neighborhood in 2017. Instead, they offered the agents a porta-potty outside on the sidewalk.

But after multiple neighbors complained about the porta-potty, the agents were forced to relieve themselves at a bathroom in former President Barack Obama’s garage nearby, at the vice president’s compound a mile up Massachusetts avenue, and at businesses in the area. 

Finally, in September 2017, the federal government began renting a $3,000-a-month studio apartment across the street from the Trump-Kushner residence for the agents’ bathroom needs. The government has so far spent about $100,000 on rent for the basement apartment and is expected to spend another $44,000 as the apartment has been leased until September 2021.

White House spokesman Judd Deere denied that Trump and Kushner had prohibited their Secret Service detail from using the bathrooms in their house in a statement to The Post. 

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